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About the Story
[Entry in the cancelled ADRIFT One Room Comp 2004]
1st Place - InsideADRIFT End of Year Comp 2004
A fun outing!
As with other Whyld outings, we have an array of traditional text adventure puzzles from the sublime to the downright silly. This is tongue-in-cheek stuff and, unlike in some games, it really works here. I think that is because the initial scenario is plausible, credible and easy to imagine. It's madcap nonsense and all the better for it.
-- Laurence Moore
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Playing for the first time is somewhat like walking into a mine field as the game's wacky events of varyingly high levels of improbability go off all around the hapless protagonist. Just like in a mine field, however, the triggers that would allow the player to set off most of the comedic bombs in this game are often invisible, buried by its "Read the Author's Mind" style of puzzle structure. Even playing with the source code visible, I find myself fairly baffled as to how I was supposed to get from point A to point B in many situations-- or even how to start some of them.
Maybe the most annoying part is (Spoiler - click to show)when I am asked if I have any meteor ore and get rejected with no time to respond, even when it is clear to all present that such material is (for reasons I'll leave vague) readily available.
The real loss here is that the situational humor doesn't withstand several playthroughs. Many of the funny parts won't even be seen by the player unless they can guess the verb and work out the byzantine pathways required in solving chains of sometimes interlocking, sometimes independent puzzles. Lack of player friendliness is a heavy weight on what might otherwise be a light-hearted (even sparkling), surreal sitcom.
Perhaps best played with a walkthrough handy.
There are some jokes which are Not Your Thing but still give you a chuckle. David Whyld's games are like that for me. I prefer my humor with different misdirections. The humor in Paint!!! is, well, direct. You have three assistant painters who help you paint the office of a man with a very, very long Greek name. And you need to paint everything: the floor, the table, and so forth. But there are problems, like Thor appearing, and how your assistant Ted keeps stealing stuff. And the people who have kidnapped your sister, even though you don't have a sister. And the secretary who keeps bringing you refreshments you don't quite need.
This needs to be played through honestly several times before you have a clue what's really going on. But it's rather fun to muddle about. I wound up giving up, but fortunately, the game has a command called LET ME CHEAT. I did.
I am pretty sure Paint!!! violates all sorts of principles of game design theory. Nevertheless, I'm glad it popped up on recommended lists, and I was able to give it a try. It would probably be very frustrating without the walkthrough. It's a change of pace we need in small doses, when our subtle humor gets too subtle and doesn't seem to go anywhere.
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